Radiation & Health

The recently published NCRP Commentary No. 27 evaluated the new information from epidemiologic studies as to their degree of support for applying the linear nonthreshold (LNT) model of carcinogenic effects for radiation protection purposes [1]. The aim was to determine whether recent epidemiologic studies of low-LET radiation, particularly those at low doses and/or low dose rates (LD/LDR), broadly support the LNT model of carcinogenic risk or, on the contrary, demonstrate sufficient evidence that the LNT model is inappropriate for the purposes of radiation protection. An updated review was needed because a considerable number of reports of radiation epidemiologic studies based on new or updated data have been published since other major reviews were conducted by national and international scientific committees. The Commentary provides a critical review of the LD/LDR studies that are most directly applicable to current occupational, environmental and medical radiation exposure circumstances. This Memorandum summarizes several of the more important LD/LDR studies that incorporate radiation dose responses for solid cancer and leukaemia that were reviewed in Commentary No. 27. In addition, an overview is provided of radiation studies of breast and thyroid cancers, and cancer after childhood exposures. Non-cancers are briefly touched upon such as ischemic heart disease, cataracts, and heritable genetic effects. To assess the applicability and utility of the LNT model for radiation protection, the Commentary evaluated 29 epidemiologic studies or groups of studies, primarily of total solid cancer, in terms of strengths and weaknesses in their epidemiologic methods, dosimetry approaches, and statistical modeling, and the degree to which they supported a LNT model for continued use in radiation protection. Recommendations for how to make epidemiologic radiation studies more informative are outlined. The NCRP Committee recognizes that the risks from LD/LDR are small and uncertain. The Committee judged that the available epidemiologic data were broadly supportive of the LNT model and that at this time no alternative dose-response relationship appears more pragmatic or prudent for radiation protection purposes.

Journal of Radiological Protection (accessed) 18th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 July 2018

Nuclear Terror

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit brought to a close President Barack Obama’s high-level initiative to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism and secure weapons-usable nuclear materials. The four biannual summits from 2010-2016 played a significant role in bringing high-level political attention to the threat posed by vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world and strengthening the global nuclear security regime. As part of the summit process, states were encouraged to make national commitments, known as house gifts, to take specific actions to strengthen nuclear security. Building on this concept, the 2012 summit began the tradition of offering multilateral joint statements, known as gift baskets, in which groups of states came together to address key gaps in the nuclear security architecture. The national commitments and joint statements resulted in some of the most tangible and innovative nuclear security improvements over the course of the summit process. This report offers a comprehensive assessment of the national commitments states undertook as part of the summit process. While these commitments represent significant advances, effective nuclear security requires continuous improvement to address gaps and new threats. States must continue to build on the accomplishments of the summit process to minimize the risk of nuclear terrorism.

Arms Control Association 18th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 July 2018

Nuclear Safety

While the earthquake and tsunami leading up to what happened at Fukushima Daiichi could not have been avoided, certain culture-based measures could have been implemented before, during, and immediately after the accident to help prevent the accident or mitigate the consequences. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, The Fukushima Daiichi Accident, identified complacency among the management and workforce as one of its major root causes: “Because of the basic assumption that nuclear power plants in Japan were safe, there was a tendency for organizations and their staff not to challenge the level of safety.” Now that some time has passed and we are able to look back dispassionately upon the events of that frantic time, what have we learned about nuclear safety culture and nuclear security culture? (I use the word culture here to mean people’s beliefs and attitudes.) Safety and security may sound more or less identical to the uninitiated, but are really two entirely separate features. What are their roles as motivators for the individuals who are tasked to upgrade and maintain safety and security? What really is nuclear safety and what is nuclear security? Can the respective cultures around each of them be harmonized so they collaborate more efficiently?

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 6th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 15 July 2018

Nuclear Power Stations

EDF ready to divest a part of its power stations in the United Kingdom. The electrician “considers various options” but intends to remain “majority” in the capital of its British subsidiary which operates eight nuclear power plants across the Channel. EDF is ready to sell part of the capital of its nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom if the opportunity arises. This is what the electrician said Wednesday, for the first time, as a result of information published in the London press.

Les Echos 12th July 2018 read more »

May put construction of the China-backed Hinkley Point C power station on hold two years ago, one of her first major acts since taking over as Prime Minister in the aftermath of Britain’s shock Brexit vote. Sources close to May suggested the decision was driven by national security concerns centring on China’s nuclear strategy. Yet two years on from that hold-up, the state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) is reportedly looking to augment its involvement in Britain’s nuclear energy sector by securing a 49% interest in eight power stations previously owned by British Energy. CGN analysts may feel the turmoil in the British government over Brexit, combined with the burgeoning trade relationship between the UK and China, will ensure no hitches this time.

Descrier 12th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 13 July 2018

Nuclear Power Stations

China’s major nuclear power operator, China General Nuclear Power Corp, denied it is in an early stage to buy a big minority stake in Britain’s fleet of nuclear power stations. The company hasn’t conducted related work yet, Huang Xiaofei, spokesperson for the company, told China Daily on Monday. The comment came after reports saying CGN is considering an approach for a share of up to 49 percent in the eight power stations, which generate a fifth of the nation’s electricity. The stake, worth up to £4 billion ($5.3 billion), is being sold by Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, and the French giant EDF, according to the Times.

China Daily 10th July 2018 read more »

EDF considering options over its 80 percent stake in UK nuclear plants. French state-controlled power group EDF said on Wednesday it was considering its options regarding Britain’s nuclear plants, adding that it wanted to keep a majority stake. “Following Centrica’s announcement of its intention to sell its 20 percent stake in EDF Energy’s operating nuclear fleet by 2020, EDF is currently taking steps to support this process and considering different options – while remaining committed to maintain control and majority ownership of the asset,” EDF said in a statement on Wednesday. No decision regarding a potential minority sell-down of its stake has been taken yet,” added the French company.

Reuters 11th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 12 July 2018

Nuclear Power Stations

Banks court buyers for 49% stake in UK nuclear power stations. EDF Energy thought to have piggybacked on plans by Centrica to sell off some of nuclear power stake. Three international banks have begun courting buyers for a 49% stake in Britain’s eight nuclear power stations, starting the process of a major shakeup of the sector’s ownership. UK-listed Centrica said in February it was looking to sell its 20% stake in the nuclear plants, which UBS and Goldman Sachs are understood to be handling. Industry watchers have speculated that majority owner EDF Energy, which is shouldering the huge financial burden of building Hinkley Point C in Somerset, also wanted to sell some of its stake. The company, represented by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, is understood to have piggybacked on the sale after the British Gas-owner, Centrica, announced its plans. The pool of possible buyers is a relatively small one, as private investors have generally steered clear of nuclear. Aside from China, Japanese and South Korean nuclear firms could also be in the frame. Russia is another major nuclear power player, but ownership of UK plants would be politically unacceptable.

Guardian 9th July 2018 read more »

French state-controlled utility EDF (EDF.PA) declined to comment on whether it would be willing to sell part of its 80 percent stake in Britain’s nuclear plants, following a UK newspaper report about Chinese interest in buying a large minority stake.

Reuters 9th July 2018 read more »

The possible replacement of the U.K.’s aging nuclear reactor fleet may offer China’s ambitious atomic power companies an outlet for investment and technology. That could be the driver behind reports over the weekend by the London-based Sunday Times that state-owned China General Nuclear Power Corp. “made an approach” about acquiring as much as 49 percent in eight U.K. nuclear power plants owned by Electricite de France SA and Centrica Plc., without saying where it obtained the information. The stake is valued at as much as 4 billion pounds ($5.3 billion), according to the report.

Bloomberg 9th July 2018 read more »

Power Technology 9th July 2018 read more »

In response to the National Infrastructure Committee’s Assessment, published on Tuesday, Kate Blagojevic, Head of Energy for Greenpeace UK, said – “The standard explanation for favouring nuclear power over cheaper, safer, renewable sources is that nuclear provides continuous, reliable power. This is both inaccurate, as even a small accident can close a reactor for months, and irrelevant, as ‘baseload’ power is only a requirement for the 20th century grid which we are leaving behind. The NIC’s recommendations would force the government’s energy policy into the 21st century, finally recognising the economic and environmental logic of backing cheap renewable energy to keep the lights on and bills and carbon emissions down. We hope the government will listen to the experts so that Britain can have an energy system fit for the future, and be the international climate leader we claim to be.”

Greenpeace 10th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 10 July 2018

Nuclear Power Stations

The Chinese government has emerged as a potential buyer of a multibillion-pound stake in Britain’s nuclear power plants. The talks will reignite debate about China’s involvement in the UK nuclear power industry. Two years ago, the government paused approval for the £18bn Hinkley Point C project because of security concerns over China’s stake. China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), a state-run corporation, is said to be interested in buying a major stake in eight power stations, including Sizewell in Suffolk and Dungeness in Kent. The power stations are operated by EDF Energy, a subsidiary of the French company EDF, but earlier this year, the British Gas owner, Centrica, put its 20% stake up for sale. The Sunday Times suggested CGN hoped to acquire a 49% stake, which indicates EDF could be looking to offload some of its shareholding. The proposed deal would be a headache for Theresa May, who is concerned about giving China greater access to critical infrastructure projects and has initiated a new national security test for foreign takeovers. Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at University College London’s Energy Institute, said Britain was an outlier in its openness to Chinese investment. He said. “There is no other OECD country that would allow China to own any of its critical infrastructure, let alone its nuclear infrastructure.” Dorfman said EDF, with €33bn (£29bn) of debt, was eager to raise funds from asset sales. “EDF is in financial difficulties and has been for some time. It’s looking to sell off whatever it can sell off. It’s worried about debt, its credit rating … plus its waste and decommissioning liabilities,” he said.

Guardian 8th July 2018 read more »

The Chinese government is considering buying a significant stake in Britain’s eight nuclear power stations, raising the prospect of fresh concerns about foreign influence over the nation’s critical energy infrastructure. China General Nuclear, the state-run nuclear investor, is in the early stages of a potential bid for as much as 49 per cent of the power stations, which are majority-owned and operated by EDF, the French energy group, according to The Sunday Times. The stake is being sold by EDF and its junior partner Centrica, the British Gas owner, which has expressed a desire to offload its 20 per cent stake in the power plants by 2020. China’s interest in owning a large stake in the power stations, which generate about 20 per cent of Britain’s electricity, could pose a stiff test for Theresa May, although EDF would retain control of the plants if a deal went ahead. CGN wants to expand its nuclear operations in Britain and is a key investor in the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset, Britain’s first new nuclear plant in more than 20 years. Mrs May delayed approval for the plant amid concerns over the implications of Chinese involvement on energy, security and safety, only to agree to it in September 2016.

Times 9th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 9 July 2018

Nuclear Plants

The Chinese government is in early-stage talks to buy a big minority stake in Britain’s fleet of nuclear power stations, The Sunday Times can reveal. China General Nuclear (CGN), the country’s state-run nuclear giant, is understood to have made an approach about acquiring a share of up to 49% in the eight power stations, which generate a fifth of the nation’s electricity. The stake, worth up to £4bn, is being sold by Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, and the French giant EDF. The move highlights China’s ambitions to become a global player in nuclear energy. It will present a huge challenge for Theresa May. The prime minister is deeply wary of granting the Chinese greater access to critical infrastructure and has initiated a new national security test on foreign takeovers. Centrica’s boss, Iain Conn, wants to sell its share by the end of 2020 under plans to focus on providing services and power to households and businesses. Cash-strapped EDF is considering cutting its 80% stake to 51%. It has hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch as an adviser.

Times 8th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 8 July 2018

Terror

Michael Shellenberger: If Nuclear Plants Are So Vulnerable To Terrorist Attack, Why Don’t Terrorists Attack Them? Greenpeace earlier this week announced its employees had crashed a drone into a nuclear power plant in France in order to show the world just how vulnerable nuclear plants are to terrorist attacks.

Forbes 6th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 7 July 2018

Uranium

Urenco is to provide enrichment services to EDF to support the recycling of uranium recovered from used nuclear fuel in French nuclear reactors under a new contract announced yesterday. The “high value and long-term” contract covers the enrichment of uranium recovered from nuclear fuel that has been previously used and reprocessed. “The technical complexities of enriching this material will involve expertise from across Urenco and upgrading our facilities,” the company said yesterday. The announcement is linked to a contract signed in April by Framatome and EDF, under which Framatome is to design, fabricate and supply fuel assemblies using enriched reprocessed uranium to EDF between 2023 and 2032.

World Nuclear News 5th July 2018 read more »

Posted: 6 July 2018